THERE will be no shark sanctuary in Fiji, deputy director of Fisheries Suresh Chand says.
The decision was made by the ministry following a finding in the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission's (WCPFC) Conservation and Management Measures.
Mr Chand said Fiji was bound by the laws of WCPFC. "As a member of the WCPFC, Fiji has to comply with its Conservation and Management Measure which specifically prevents members from targeting sharks," he said.
"This also applies to all Fiji flagged vessels and foreign fishing vessels which use Fiji port. One of the requirements of this measure is for fishers having shark fins onboard to also have shark carcass."
Provisions have been made in the Draft Offshore and Inshore Fisheries Management Decree to protect sharks which will be submitted to the Solicitor General's office soon.
"At this moment, a shark sanctuary for Fiji is not a priority but to have a National Plan of Action for the Protection of Sharks first." Deputy permanent secretary for Fisheries Penina Cirikiyasawa revealed meetings with relevant stakeholders would be organised to formulate a National Plan of Action for the Protection of Sharks.
"The ministry will now organise stakeholders meetings to formulate a National Plan of Action for the Protection of Sharks, therefore, there is no need for a separate Cabinet Paper on the subject matter and there will be no shark sanctuary.
"We have now noted that protection of sharks is adequately embedded in the Draft Inshore Decree which is yet to be submitted to the Solicitor General's Office for legal vetting," Mrs Cirikiyasawa said.